May 8, 2019 Tony Morgan

Pastoral Succession Real Talk – Episode 92 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

The Incoming & Outgoing Lead Pastors at The Crossing in Costa Mesa, CA Share Their Story


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“It really feels like you’re conducting a wedding and performing a funeral at the same time.” That’s how Tim Celek, founding pastor at The Crossing in Costa Mesa, California described how pastoral succession really feels.

People often talk about leadership succession planning in abstract, corporate terms. But leaders are human, which means there’s a lot more to it than just identifying the next name on an org chart.

Today on the podcast, I’m sharing a conversation with some good friends of mine at The Crossing in Costa Mesa, California—Tim, the founding pastor who just handed over the reins, and Andrew Brownback, the new lead pastor.

I know we just talked about succession last week with William Vanderbloemen—and if you haven’t listened to that episode yet, I really recommend that you do—but this one is different. This is a real life story about what worked, and it’s fresh.

Tim and Andrew share their key learnings from this passing of the baton, and I think you’ll find yourself jotting down notes (or you can just check out the Leader Conversation Guide we put together for you, see below). They also shared a fantastic list of resources they used in their planning.

A few specific things we discussed:

  • Starting the succession conversation: How Tim (just barely out of his 40s) initiated a planning conversation with his board—and how he dealt with the pushback and ultimately rallied everyone to the vision of a healthy handoff
  • Why every church needs an emergency plan for your leadership, regardless of how old they are today
  • What it really feels like in practice, not theory, when the day to implement the plan finally comes, and how Tim processed it then and continues to do so
  • The difference between true succession planning and mere replacement planning
  • The practical elements of timing, planning, hiring and communication sequencing to ensure a healthy transition
  • How the incoming pastor can prepare to follow a long-tenured successful leader
Pastoral succession. It really feels like you're conducting a wedding and performing a funeral at the same time. via @timcelek Click to Tweet The difference between true succession planning & mere replacement planning [episode 92]#unstuckchurch #podcast Click To Tweet

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Transcript 

Sean: 00:33 Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast where each week where exploring what it means to be unstuck church. Today on the podcast, we’re sharing the story of the recent leadership transition at the cross and church in Costa Mesa, California. Tony has joined by founding pastor Tim Celek and lead pastor Andrew Brownback to hear about why they recently journey through the succession process and some of the key learnings they had along the way. Don’t forget, as you listened today to grab the show notes and share them with your team. You can find them the unstuck group.com forward slash episode nine two also, here’s a life hack for you. Subscribe to get the show notes in your inbox. Each week you’ll get one email with all the info, including the leader guide, the resources we mentioned, and bonus resources to go along with the concept. You can sign up by going to the unstuck group.com forward slash podcast. And now here’s Today’s conversation on succession with Tony, Tim Selleck and Andrew Brown.

Tony: 01:26 All right, Tim and Andrew, it’s good to connect with you today. Welcome to the podcast.

Tim: 01:31 Thank you so much, Tony. It’s good to be here, man.

Tony: 01:34 So Tim, I’m going to start with you. We’re going to be talking about succession today, but before we dive into that process you and Andrew have been advocating over the past couple of years, could you just give us a little bit of the backstory about The Crossing?

Tim: 01:52 We had the opportunity in my life to launch it roughly 30 years ago plus five months. And, we launched on September 11, 1988. We were out of a church in Orange County at that time called Calvary Church, Santa Ana, a church in Costa Mesa that had basically gone out of business, gave the property to this new corporation. It’s on 2.2 acres of land, old school, A-frame church building. And there was about 20 to 25 people left in the church, mostly older people, but they still had the heart to reach their community, on the coast of Southern California and Orange County. And so we came down and started the church back then, 30 years ago. And over that period of time, one thing that we started with and stayed true to this day, even, under Andrew’s leadership now, is our very clear mission was to reach people who are saying no to God.

Tim: 02:58 And we wanted to help say yes to him through his Son, Jesus Christ. And, so really our goal and focus has been to that day. To this day, we wanted to reach the unconvinced and also non church people. So roughly about 40% of our people, Andrew could authenticate that, they just took a survey, but about 40% of our people who come to The Crossing, this is their first church. Very first church experience. Wow. And then, you know, through a number of years, we grew, we added I think about five, six, seven services on that 2.2 acre piece of property. We expanded it a couple of times and then we looked for about seven years for somewhere to move. And we ended up finding something after seven years right across the freeway, less than a quarter mile away, we doubled our acreage.

Tim: 03:50 We went from 2.2 acres to 4.7 acres. And, our first building we built was a parking structure, a four and a half story parking structure. Then we built what we thought was going to be the kids building and the church building, but it soon became evident that that wouldn’t be enough. We put a tent structure on there and now we have all these years later, we have is basically 60,000 square feet of space to inhabit kids and teens and adults. The parking structure itself is on 4.7 acres of land and a lot has changed in Costa Mesa over the years. When we started, we planted, it was like 90% Caucasian, 10% other. The bulk was Hispanic. Now, literally, this city is about 45%, practically Hispanic and probably 50% Caucasian, and now 5% other. So a lot has changed in Costa Mesa over the years. Now, Costa Mesa in Orange County. It’s the seat of the hub for sober living, transitional homes, for addicts and sobriety and recovery. So that’s also become something that has been a hotbed of opportunity. So all these years later, it’s just neat what God has done and what we’ve seen happen.

Tony: 05:25 I don’t think most people outside of California can appreciate how difficult it is, particularly for churches, to find land, to get approvals for construction. And five acres doesn’t sound like much, probably to a lot of churches across the country. But in California, that’s actually a pretty big campus. And by the way, if you ever do find yourself in Costa Mesa, you really do need to swing by The Crossing. Through the years I’ve had the opportunity to visit hundreds of different churches and their campus and the facilities on their campus. It’s one of the most beautiful church properties I’ve ever been to. So Tim, through the years, you and your church have really done a great work there to create a really, a phenomenal atmosphere for people, particularly those that are unchurched as you suggested, to take their very first steps toward Christ. As I mentioned, we’re going to be talking about succession today. This is a process that you and Andrew have journeyed through. But before we talk about the actual succession, that actual transition that took place, could you give us an overview of the succession work you went through with your board prior to hiring Andrew? Give us a sense of what that timing looked like and how did you prepare the board for what was about to happen next?

Tim: 06:48 Well, I’m not sure you have enough time. Okay. So like it started in 2010, roughly 2010, the end of 2009, I was in a mentoring group with a bunch of pastors that I was invited into and the person who was at the point of that, a man who’s been a phenomenal mentor for me. Kenton Beshore, who was Mariners’ senior pastor for years, just recently transitioned and succession process at his church. He mentioned the word. I had never heard the word. And so what happened was, I went and started reading about it just on my own. And it was the first time it hit me like, like, dude, you really are not invincible. You like, you really are not everlasting, you know? I mean it, I don’t know. I never thought of it before that time. And so, out of that experience, it just started me, propelled me on realizing I’m temporary and then the, and then through a lot of different things.

Tim: 07:49 I think the book Next by William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird, they mentioned that we’re all interim pastors. So that’s become part of my thinking since then, but that wasn’t even there in 2010. So I’ll try to go through this really quick. And, in 2011, I got my hands on this book by Bob Russell called The Transition Plan. And I just read it. I devoured it. I think I read it three times, at that particular point. And I, in 2011, gave excerpts of that book to our board. And then out of that, two of our board members went and met with the person who we were referred to by Kenton, who is kind of helping them, a guy in their church. And that, that person said to our two board members in 2011, well you’re probably a little bit too early to do this, but it’s great that Tim and you guys are thinking about it.

Tim: 08:42 So then what happened was, in roughly 2013, 2012, it did cause us to think about, well, what if Tim gets hit by a bus? Because we hadn’t even had an emergency plan, and all these years and so that put our board put in place an emergency plan. It’s still in place today even for a person like Andrew at this point. And so we, we did that in 2013. Well then in 2014, I don’t know how I heard about it, but there was a series of videos I found on the Internet by this guy named Will Heath. And I watched those. They’re not up there anymore, but they were at that particular time. And then at our board retreat in the spring of 2014 I showed a couple of those modules and our board watched. And it led to some real spirited discussion.

Tim: 09:38 Uh, believe me, it started some really unique discussion that I was even surprised by. Like things like, well, Tim, you’re too young. Why are you thinking about this now? This is ridiculous. And, and yet we, we did, I kept pressing and then the book right after that, the book Next came out like I think toward the end of 2014 and so I put that book in our board’s hands in 2015 we read it, we discussed it. And then in November of 2015, our board, my wife and I went to a succession planning workshop that an organization called Leadership Network was putting on. So basically what happened was, there was a quote from Bob Russell’s book that that really hit me. It said, “Once you make the decision to take the step in transitioning your leadership position to somebody else, you need to throw everything you have into the process.”

Tim: 10:37 And so I started doing that from 2010 onward. And that led us to that workshop in November. Sue and I were actually thinking that we would hand things over when I was already 60, but then it became evident at that workshop that a good marker point for us was to hand it over on our churches 30th birthday. That would be like a really neat celebration and a great time to hand it over. And so we came out of that and that pushed us to begin thinking like who’s going to be the person? And one of the things I want to make clear though in succession, I think there’s replacement planning and succession planning. One is the subset of the other replacement planning as a subset of succession planning. And so the replacement of me was just one part of many things that I put on this like chart that I organized of what we needed to think through before I departed.

Tim: 11:39 All though the replacement part needed to be in place first to kind of trigger all those other four things. And so in 2016, we secured for the very first time in our church’s history, a search agency Vanderbloemen Search Group. That was in January. In May we were given a slate of candidates and at our board retreat in May, we sat down and interviewed these candidates. Andrew quickly rose to the top and then we offered him a position in July to come on staff. And then there were these other four things that I’m sure we’ll get to in this interview that I had put in place like a part of the process of succession planning. But now we had the person who was the replacement now on staff in September of 2016.

Tony: 12:33 Okay. So just to reiterate several important things. Number one, Tim, highlighted the fact that there should be an emergency succession plan for every pastor, no matter how old you are. Secondly, it’s just interesting to hear that it was close to seven or eight years before the actual transition took place that Tim and his wife and some of the board started to learn about what succession was all about. And then the actual succession process itself started two, three years before the transition itself. But that does bring Andrew into the picture. So Andrew, when you joined this was in 2016, it sounds like, right in the fall.

Andrew: 13:19 Yeah. I started the first week of September in 2016 and my title when I started was the senior associate pastor. And so what I did with that is that was I would teach about once a month on stage. My job was to relaunch small groups and oversee care and then also be part of leading our strategic planning process. And so that was the initial role, but really what led us to The Crossing. My wife and I, we’d been in this season of praying and thinking about what was next. And we knew we wanted to be part of a church that had four things. So we knew first we wanted to be part of a church that would do whatever it takes to reach people who don’t know Jesus. For us that was a nonnegotiable.

Andrew: 13:59 We both didn’t come to faith until our teenage to early 20 years. And so we had a heart for that. Second, we wanted to be part of a church that had an impact in the community. You know, there’s always the famous saying we want to make sure, if our church disappeared, people would notice. That was a huge value for us. We wanted to be part of a diverse church that really reflected the community that it was in. And then fourth, and this was a very specific prayer request, is we wanted a great relationship with the senior pastor going into transition. We knew that relationship was going to be key. And for me this would be my first time ever leading a church. And so I wanted to make sure that the senior pastor in place was someone I could confide and trust. Someone who knew me more than just work, but also on a relational level as well. And so we found all four of those with The Crossing, which was awesome.

Tony: 14:47 And this was a big move for you and your family, right?

Andrew: 14:50 Yeah, we moved from the Midwest and so it was definitely like a cross country huge leap of faith kind of move for us.

Tony: 14:58 Yeah. So, Tim, talk about the importance of the season where both you and Andrew were working together. Why was that overlap so important?

Tim: 15:09 Well, I think it’s critical for a number of different reasons. Trust, right. You said the overlap, the intention overlap and there’s different ways to go about the succession process. We chose intentional overlap and we also chose to go outside of work or church organization in securing someone and that new someone became Andrew. And so now I’m meeting somebody for the very first time and he’s meeting us for the very first time. So to build trust was critical in that overlap. For me to him, although just so you know, he knew from day one he was the guy. And so everything that we did myself, our board, mostly those were the only people initially that even knew that was the reason. He was on our staff. We did from day one. We weren’t dangling a carrot.

Tim: 16:02 We said, you’re the guy and we’re going to pause. We’re going to pour into you. We’re going to build into you. So the overlap was important because it gave him time to trust me and me time to trust him. And then the second thing with that was relationship, just pure relationship so that, you know, we did things during those two years to build out. We were in a coaching group, happened to be through The Unstuck Group, but we did that not so much for what we would get out of the coaching group, but that we could spend time together separate from The Crossing. We went and spent time at a succession workshop that Auxano did. Again, more so we could just spend time together. I found somebody who had a kindred love for Apple Watches.

Tim: 16:53 And, we found out those kinds of things where, you know, quirky, but also it was fun to find out the other. So I’ve built the relationship. The other two reasons I think for the overlap was it gave him familiarity with this new organization, both the good parts and pieces and, and the downsides. Because anytime I think you have a long tenured, particularly founding pastor or even a long tenured pastor, there are skeletons in closets and bodies buried. You know, that you just need to unearth, I believe me, I didn’t like seeing some of those things because I knew I caused those. They were done on my watch. But I knew that my successor needed to see those at the same time I was seeing them. And, and then that would lead to the last thing so that he could have the opportunity to be coached, you know, like in the process. So he can ask questions about it. He could, he could dialogue about it. And I don’t think for the most part, I’m sure there were times where I might’ve powered up, or reared up or got a little defensive, but it gave him the opportunity to ask questions about it. So that overlap was critical for so many different for so many different reasons.

Tony: 18:26 Yeah. And again, I think it’s important for people to hear this wasn’t an overlap to figure out is Andrew the guy or not. That decision was made when he was hired. In fact, my suspicion Andrew, is you probably wouldn’t have taken the job unless you had assurance that eventually you are going to be stepping into the lead pastor role. Is that correct?

Andrew: 18:47 Correct. I mean for us, and that goes even to what I said before is a high trust in Tim is part of us in the interview process was all still interviewing The Crossing. And you know, what kind of senior pastors is because there’s always horror stories out there of, you know, what happens and people change their mind. Um, so for us, we really wanted that assurance because we did feel that that was the next step for us and we wanted to know we were going to go in it with someone that we could really count on their words. I think what’s so important in succession over the period of years is that interviewing about 20 other churches before we even did this is.

Tim: 19:24 I almost see it like, you know, now with Google maps in ways that Apple Maps you put in the destination, you just put it in and you say, okay, that, so the destination is Tim’s handing things off in September. It is an art, not a science. So a lot of times when you put it in the Google maps or apple maps or ways, it gives you three or four other routes to get to the same place. And so over the time, even the two years Andrew was here, we had to take little detours, and the discovery process, which was okay, but Andrew was always the guy. And, and that I think is so important because I’ve seen so many situations and interviewed many where there was promises or carrots dangled and it was never in trusted to the new leader. And I don’t think it was because of the new leader. I think it was because of the departing person being a little skiddish, and not wanting that new person to fly.

Tony: 20:36 Andrew, I had the opportunity, I was actually on site with your team both prior to Tim’s a transition out of the lead pastor role and then after that transition to help you and your team with strategic planning as a new lead pastor. How did that prepare you and the church for the transition in leadership?

Andrew: 20:56 Oh, I would say that was vital. I mean, so first for us, what I loved about that process and The Unstuck Process was it gave all of our key leaders of voice. And so being a new leader and then even as I stepped into transition, so both of those times, it just allowed me to hear from other staff, their perspective on what’s working and then where are we throwing a lot of time, energy, and resources towards, and we’re stuck. And so I feel like the discussions that took place and there were just incredible and it helped me evaluate, here’s where people are coming from, here’s their perspective and here’s where God may be leading them, or here’s what they’re passionate about moving forward. Uh, as far as the specific process, what was so important for that, especially with transition, it felt like in transition, there was like a thousand important things to do and they were all equally important.

Andrew: 21:42 So it’s easy to get gridlocked in moments like that. And so what I really found through our time together was it was so important for us to be able to whittle that list down and say, here’s what’s really important today. Like these are the two to three most important things that if we don’t do them, we’re going to be kicking ourselves in six to 12 months. And then on top of that to add onto here are the steps that will actually help us to make it happen. Instead of it just being a thing that you put on the wall and then you revisit two to three years later and I’m like, I wish we would’ve done that. Like having tangible goals and tangible dates where we said like, we’re going to accomplish this by, you know, December 31st, 2018 was so important for us getting some momentum and some wins for our staff and this season.

Tony: 22:29 Yeah. Tim, after Andrew was hired, can you walk us through the next steps? What did the process look like to prepare your board, the staff, the congregation for this transition in leadership?

Tim: 22:41 Well, you know, Andrew and you just mentioned one of them was to prepare was to make sure there was some church health or we were getting healthier. And that’s why I think a church needs to understand this is succession planning, not replacement planning. Because if it’s succession planning, then you do bring in an organization like The Unstuck Group and you bring the church to a place where they can get healthier. So we did, we worked on that. We did some stuff with the best Christian Workplace Institute where we got our staff. So we started working, you know, getting our staff and a better place. Um, and it’s getting even better now that I’m gone. So that’s great. That’s the beauty. You know, one of the things that I want to also just say before, you know, that we don’t realize is somebody said, well, you got to find some of that has the same DNA and values but not the same leadership style.

Tim: 23:42 I think that’s critical. Andrew’s leadership style is much more collaborative. My leadership style is more command and control. Neither one’s right or wrong, just in this season of time his is better and because it’s better, it’s best and and so they’re seeing that. So those two things are critical. And then what we did is you just said with the MP succession, the other component is, is making sure that transition or change process is a positive journey and that’s a healthy journey. So like any campaign, I would say a capital campaign in many churches have gone through that you have concentric rings of communication. So we, you got to think that way and that’s what we did. So we, we brought in the staff with the spouses and the board and the spouses and we announced in September of 2017 that in a year from now Andrew will be the person.

Tim: 24:37 We did it with that group first. Then the next group was the givers, the key givers second. Then we widened the circle more to the leaders and a little bit different group of givers. And then we widened the circle again with volunteers. So we did that through the whole fall of 2017 and this is just the way we did it. And then in January of 2018 we told the whole entire church, so it was over a series of successive months. We tried to take time and preparing our people, both the staff, the the, the board and the spouses, the leaders, the givers, the volunteers, and then the church as a whole. And that way when we did tell everybody in January there was, there was more of an acceptance. There was more of a readiness to hold it, but you know, so that’s kind of what we did.

Tim: 25:30 And one of the things I think every church should understand when you’re going to do this, I’m not sure who said this, I’d like to give credit to ever set, I’m not sure set up, but doing this process, once you go public, it really feels like you’re conducting a wedding and performing a funeral at the same time. And because there’s this exhilaration that you get to trumpet the mission and vision of the church. So there’s a celebration for all that God has done in our church up to this point. But now you’re telling people that that person’s leaving and yeah, the new person, you know, the Joshua to the Moses or the, the Eliza to the Elijah, the new person is going to do even more. And so there’s an excitement there, but you’d see people walking out and that process and it was a gripping thing for a lot of people as well emotionally.

Tony: 26:23 That’s good. Andrew, from your perspective, what did Tim in the church do well the prepare you then to become the next lead pastor?

Andrew: 26:31 Yeah, I mean I think over the last few minutes we’ve heard one of them, well like transition for Tim. It wasn’t like some harebrained idea he put together on a weekend and like jumped into. Yeah, I mean this was years of learning, interviewing pastors, getting the board involved, reading as many resources as he could and putting together a really thorough plan. And so all of that happened behind the scenes. And very few people know that. But I’d say like without that groundwork, I think transition would have been a lot, a lot more challenging for both him and me and for our church. The second thing, and this is the one I really wanted to highlight here is one of the things that I think has so served our church, over the last six months is Tim carried that message of excitement about the future of the church unwaveringly over over the two years. And so from stage one on one communication, Tim was very clear and I think Tim believed it to his core and I think he still does that the church’s best days are in front of us. And so when people, you know, said things even like Tim mentioned earlier, like, Oh, you’re too young, or are you sure things like that, Tim’s ability to communicate that with such integrity and such consistency. I think it got our church excited and, and I think we’re seeing like our best days are in front of us and we do see God has a lot in store for us moving forward.

Tony: 27:49 Yeah. So, Tim, obviously this is the first and likely the last time you’ll ever go through a succession process like this. What did you learn through this journey? Maybe personally, what did you personally learn? Is there anything that you would have done differently if you could go back in time at this point?

Tim: 28:10 Okay, well, you got to get personal on me? Well, Marshall Goldsmith wrote a book. It’s a really good, but he’s a business guy, but he wrote a book and it’s called Succession. And he has a quote I just want to read it. It says academic literature tends to ignore the fact that CEOs and their successors are human beings. Very little of what is written deals with the soft personal issues like relationships, self interest, ego or God forbid feelings. Another person says, succession is personal long before it’s tactical. And it’s true. I mean, one of the things you realize is you’re handing something off. And in this case it was, you know, I’m, and I’m the founding guy. And I do believe to the core of my being with great intensity that our best days are ahead of us and I want to do whatever I can do to assist Andrew in that process without getting in his way. But at the same time, there’s a lot there. There’s some feelings there for me. Like you just like you, it’s funny, you’re gone for four months or five months or six months and you come back as I do some speaking still on the team and you come back and they go it’s great to have a special speaker today. That was what somebody said. It was great. They invited you and I wanted to, I looked at this guy and I, as he walked away and I thought, do that I started this place. And what you realize is you just have to let that go. I mean, you know, but you have to to feel it. You know, don’t get me wrong because that’s real. But at the same time, I, and so many times and the people I interviewed, that was one of the things that came loud and clear that, that this, this is a personal process and don’t deny that as you go forward.

Tony: 30:20 Andrew it’s probably no surprise to you that following a long term successful leader in a church or probably any organization, it’s just very challenging. And so I’m curious to hear, I mean, you’re a couple of years into this process now, but what have you learned through the process? And do you have any advice for other young leaders like yourself that are in a similar situation to yours?

Andrew: 30:47 Yeah, I mean, I’ve got a few things. I mean, first I’d say it’s so important, in conversations and publicly to honor and learn all you can about the church’s past. And so I can’t tell you how important my, I’d say, especially my first year was sitting down with people one on one and hearing, you know, their experience at the church, you know, them saying yes to Jesus for the first time, their kids getting baptized, them getting plugged in to serve and just like what they would consider the glory days of the church. But then also on the flip side of hearing some of the tougher stories of tougher seasons for the church are tough for seasons for them at the church. Those things were so important for me. Like you hear the, the, the statistics or the facts of a church you like, you can find that anywhere.

Andrew: 31:32 People will tell you that in five minutes. But when you hear the heart behind people’s stories of their experience, it’s so helpful to learn like, here’s where they’re coming from, here’s their perspective, here’s what they’re gaining, or potentially losing with any transition or any changes we make. So I’d say that was the first one. Second one is, uh, you know this, everyone says this. I can’t remember where I first heard it, but just facts are your friends. That was like one of the best pieces of advice I’ve over the last year that someone gave me. And so I’ve taken that to heart. And so one of the things I’d advise any new leader stepping in, especially after transition is all the facts are your friends. And, so for us as a staff, we’ve spent the last few months, we’ve really identified where are we as a church? How are we doing with growth?

Andrew: 32:18 How are we doing with our staff culture? How are we doing financially? And we don’t want just anecdotal stories around them. We want to, as a team, be able to look at and say, here’s how we’re doing for the last few years and now here’s how we’re going to continue to improve and lean into those. So just any sort of info data you can gather and just also to present it to people are so vital. Because when you say things like, Hey, you know, financially we’re not exactly where we want to be. People then have the opportunity to say, Hey, I’d love to help. I’d love to jump in. You know, and especially as a new leader, you’re going to, there’s only so long you can play that, hey, I’m new. So can you give me a hand card? So in this first year, just having the facts to be able to play that card, it’s just saying, Hey, I’m new, I’d love your house, you know, to a business leader saying, hey, how do you create staff healthier staff culture? I’d love your help. Things like that had been so helpful for me. And then the last one is I’d say multiple, multiple mentors. And so for me, one of the things I feel very fortunate about is Tim and I have a great relationship. So anytime I have issues or challenges, I can go to Tim. Tony, you’ve personally been incredibly helpful in our phone calls and when you’ve been on campus here. And then there’s a couple of pastors and a couple of business leaders that I know I can call virtually any time of day and run any staffing question, any growth question, any, you know, decision I have to make through. And so I think just what I’m learning through all three of those is, as a leader you don’t have to have all the answers, right? Like my job is not to have the answers and my job is to make sure I’m putting people in the best way, in the best positions to lead the way in their specific areas. And so yeah, so those, those are a few,

Tony: 33:59 Tim, we alluded to this a little bit earlier, but this is a podcast and so listeners would have no way of knowing this, but you are still a relatively young guy. In fact, you’re a relatively young, handsome young guy, if I must say so myself. Am I correct that you, you’ve just turned 60, is that correct?

Tim: 34:25 At the timing of this podcast, I am not yet 60 yet. 59.

Tony: 34:37 So I mean this, and you alluded to this earlier, in fact, some of the folks on your board said you’re too young for this conversation. And so, I have to think other pastors that are your age and maybe even a little bit older are thinking you’re too young for this, so why did you begin the succession process at your age?

Tim: 34:58 So, Tony, you know, far better than me because of your engagement with numbers of churches. But in my short time in researching this most pastors overstay. That’s the overarching thing that I kept seeing and hearing and, and realizing, and I didn’t want that to be me. And one of the things that I think happens with age is your energy and imagination, you know, horsepower, wains. Now I don’t like to think that mine is, but I think I noticed over the last five years is that how my energy and imagination would be on display wasn’t always appreciated by generations two below me, like Generation Z or millennials. So it wasn’t that I think Andrew would say I still got a lot of energy, but how it’s appreciated and on display it isn’t always received like I’d want it to be, which leads me also to say what I also want now is, I think as you get older, I think almost always it’s harder to inspire younger people. It’s not that you can’t, but it becomes increasingly more difficult. And I noticed that and why, if I want the bride of Christ and all its magnificence to be on display, why would I get in the way of that? When there’s another younger leader capable who, who can hold the same dream and vision just as bright but more people will be drawn to its light. And so that’s another reason why. And then the last thing I would just say is why? It’s just the best for the organization. As I’ve interacted since then over these last six months and the time of this taping, it’s numbers of different denominations have told me as they’ve wanted to hear our story. Like we’ve got 15 guys, we’ve got 45 guys that need to transition. And I’ve even had guys who hear my story a little, pat me on the back and go, wow, you’re so young, that’s great for you. Hardly anybody does this. And they walk away as a senior pastor and I’m going and they’re like five years, 10 years older than me, and I’m going, you, you can do it too. And your community needs you to do it too. So it’s not just that you can do it, but your community needs you to do it. And so that’s why I did, it’s for those reasons.

Tony: 37:40 Well, I think certainly that’s one of the reasons why this has by all indicators been such a successful, healthy transition of leadership. And really it’s almost not fair that The Crossing has now had the opportunity to benefit from true great leaders that love Jesus, love his church. So guys, I really do appreciate sharing your stories today. I think it’s going to be very helpful for a lot of churches that are walking through the season as well. Any final thoughts that either of you would want to share on this topic?

Tim: 38:13 Well, there’s a quote that I got out of Bob Russell’s book and I think it’s by Dr. Lewis Foster. He says, there comes a time to close a chapter and you can go back and review it and enjoy that chapter, but don’t make the mistake of trying to live in yesterday’s chapter. And so I would just say my chapter’s closed of appointed leadership. And I would say for anybody who takes this journey and closes that chapter, be careful that you don’t go back and kind of relive those days. Let the new generation create their days, and see what God can do. And then you go ahead and create your new days, whatever your new days that God’s going to lead you on and he will the same God that worked through you as a senior leader. All these days we’ll give you new sway and and new influence in ways that were just as proportionately awesome to his spiritual, supernatural power in you in your future and, and don’t forget that.

Tony: 39:22 That’s a good word, Tim. Tim, Andrew, thank you again for joining us on today’s podcast.

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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